Wayne Duvenage: To all SoE Boards and Executives: Do Your Duty
It’s time to hold your predecessors to account.
There is nothing more gratifying to the millions of South Africans – who are concerned about the vast increases in taxes, tariffs, tolls, levies and bailouts emanating from State Capture and poor governance – than to see the appointment of new leadership who are serious and intent on setting the country on new trajectory of recovery. It therefore goes without saying that your recent replacement of past board members, whether you be at Eskom, SAA, SABC, Transnet, Prasa, ACSA, Denel and others, comes as a relief to society. For too long South Africans have witnessed the ongoing decline in governance, performance and viability of these once successful State-owned Entities (SoEs), as a result of gross misconduct, maladministration and transgressions of various laws of the land; the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA); the Protection of Organised Corruption Act (POCA); the Prevention of Corrupt Activities act (PCCA); and other commercial laws. While the public is moved by the positive messages and indications of action afoot to correct our SoEs, of great concern is the apparent lack of action against the past directors and executives of these organisations, whose transgressions and gross misconduct have driven these entities to the brink of collapse, and subjected our nation to billions of rand in unnecessary costs through maladministration and corruption, and lost opportunities. On top of your forward-looking action plans to set our SoEs on a path of recovery, we would like to remind you of your responsibility to also look back at the actions and conduct that gave rise to the current crisis you are now trying to rectify. And let’s be frank about this matter, it is your fiduciary duty to hold your predecessors to account for their unlawful and immoral conduct. In your current positions, you are the people who have the rightful and quick access to the board minutes, to the contracts and all other information to assist in a meaningful and thorough forensic analysis aimed at exposing the wrongdoing and unlawful actions required to bring the transgressors to book. This is a responsibility you cannot ignore, because the laws are very clear in this regard, meaning that you are compelled to go down this road, failing which, you too could be held accountable for not taking this necessary action. Please understand that while society at large will express their rightful anger at the additional costs imposed on taxpayers by the misconduct of many of your predecessors, swallowing the bitter pill is made a lot easier when we are able to witness each and every one of the guilty culprits in court and hopefully behind bars in the near future. We look forward to your clear and concise action, as opposed to the common past activity of turning a blind eye or dragging feet and letting the transgressors off the hook. This is the tough role required of you, as you step into those uncomfortable Director’s shoes. This is where true moral courage comes to the fore. And what makes these expected actions very easy to carry out is knowing that you have the law on your side and civil society pushing you to do the right thing. Over to you. DM Wayne Duvenage is CEO, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA)